Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tomorrow is June 21st - so what?

To start with, it is the 172nd day (173rd in Leap Years) of the year – not quite half-way through the parade of 365 (366 every 4th time around) days in this segment of our lives we call ‘a year’. Nothing special there, eh? I’ve seen 71 of them in my life time – so tomorrow is no big deal.

Well, it actually DOES have a couple of significant ‘tags’ to it:

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the ‘First Day of Summer’ – sometimes called the ‘Summer Solstice’. You can just go ahead and ‘Google’ yourselves crazy over what that means – or you can just look here and see what I said about it at this time last year: Solstice 2014 

Whilst ‘Summer Solstice’, in an astronomical sense, means: 

'The time at which the sun is at its northernmost point in the sky (southernmost point in the S hemisphere), appearing at noon at its highest altitude above the horizon’, it is more commonly thought of as the ‘longest day of the year’. 

Well, that brings up a couple of interesting points:

First:  in reality, even THAT day, like all the others, is 24 hours (1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds) long. 

Second: What we usually think of is “How long will the sun be ‘up’ that day?” Well, ‘long’ depends on where you are. Let me show you what I mean:

Here, where I live - in St Louis, MO, USA - the sun will rise tomorrow at 5:37 am and set at 8:30 pm – 14 hours and 53 minutes later. ‘Yee-hah’ you think; lots-o-sunshine. Sure, but where I was born - in Swansea, UK - the folks there will be greeted tomorrow by the sunrise at 4:57 am (50 minutes earlier) and it won’t depart them until 9:37 pm – giving those lucky buggers almost 2 hours more of sunshine! Well, let’s say ‘sunlight’; it does tend to be cloudy there more than here!  

Don’t feel TOO bad, the ‘Luck of the Irish’ covers many things! Where my wife was born - Dowra, Co Cavan, Eire - people will be up eating their rashers, black pudding and sausages at the exact same time as the sun will rise in Wales - at 4:57 am. Hmm!! Maybe they'll not; the pubs often don’t close until about 2 hours before that. However, they’ll be out in the fields tossing hay into huge piles until after the sun sets – at 10:09 pm – getting the better of the Taffs by another 32 minutes. Seems that ‘32’ is ALWAYS coming up in conversations with the Irish.  

Seriously, spare a thought for the poor buggers in Appalachia. If you live in some places - like Lynch, Kentucky - where the valleys run ‘more or less’ north-south and are so deep – maybe 1,000 feet or more – you are happy as a ‘pig-in-what-pigs-like-to-wallow-in’ if the sun, even on ‘this Solstice thing’, appears in your valley before 10:00 am and is not gone before 3:00 pm.  No wonder such places revel in ‘Moonshine’!

So much for Astronomy!  June 21st 2015 has another meaning. It is to be celebrated as ‘Father’s Day’.  Again, do your own ‘Google’ thing. I’ll leave the levity of the paragraphs above to briefly address the seriousness of thought that the day should evoke.

We all have – or have had one – a father. We all have our own memories and thoughts of what a ‘father’ is – or should be; and what ours is, or was - to us.

I leave you to ponder your own thoughts, whether they be loving or despising, and  toss out these few points:

Spare a thought, tomorrow, for the many children who didn’t get to know their father – whether because he died (perhaps in serving his country) before they were born, or whether he simply and selfishly abandoned their 'Saturday night's pleasure' and bears the label ‘father’ only in a biological sense. WAY too many single mothers in this country find themselves shirked by some lout who leaves a stain on the concept of family - and a burden to be borne by her and the society into which he contributed nothing but sperm.     

Teach YOUR sons the values, and give them the guidance that they will need, to one day be worthy recipients of a hearty and genuine “Happy Fathers’ Day” greeting.

These are the words of some notables – about Fathers  - enjoy the day.